Cross-dressing, wifi and tussles over issues of identity... this may be Peter Pan, but not as we know it.

Never ones to do things by the book, Creation Theatre are back with another twist on a festive classic... and nothing is sacred.

Peter Pan is a strange tale anyway – the surreal dreamlike product of a fevered Edwardian imagination – and it doesn’t get any less weird in the hands of Creation.

Traditionalists will baulk at some of the changes to JM Barrie’s classic, but it retains its integrity and broadly sticks to the plot. And a rip-roaring ride it is too.

The kids are home, glued to phones and iPads, when they are catapulted out of their very modern, broadband, urban existence and plunged into Neverland – or, at least, a Creation version of it – with a cool Vegas-style illuminated backdrop, a hard nut steam-punk fairy and wall-to-wall singing and stomping.

In the finest festive theatrical tradition, casting is gender-blind: Captain Hook is a woman and Tinkerbell is a man – played magnificently by Shelly Atkinson and James Burton respectively.

Odder, the child Michael is female, to no comic effect but possibly to keep the cast down to a core of six.

While last year’s A Christmas Carol was wonderfully sparse, gothic and emotional, writer & director Gari Jones’s Pan is more of a bun fight. There’s a constant barrage of noise and activity which propels the action forward but such clamorousness may make it harder to follow for younger audience members unfamiliar with the plot.

The ‘woke’ gender politics is laid on a bit thick in parts, but it’s good to see the meek Wendy – a fabulous Sophie Greenham – transformed, towards the end, into a karate-chopping ninja as she lays into Hook, softening the Cap’n up for Pan – the athletic Rob Hadden (a real star) – to duel with his sword.

I knew how Hook felt, emerging feeling as if I too had been bludgeoned. What great, escapist bonkers fun.


Peter Pan is on till January 5.